Ahead of his highly anticipated debut album entitled Bla Bla Bla, Sweden's dance music aficionado, Martin Brodin, gave us the chance to pick his brain about everything to do with defining your personality into a trademark sound and what it's like operating a record label in 2013. Brodin has turned heads over the last handful of years for his disco edits, remixes and his MB Disco label's consistent output. And not to mention Martin's own original productions that have won over the support from staple figures such as Aeroplane, The Glimmers, Tensnake and Erol Alkan just to name a few. He's not new to the game in the slightest, and he has wisdom and taste to show for it, as Martin has been taste-making since the '90s, getting his start as a deep house label head and has been collecting records for over 30 years. It seems that he's been busier than ever at the moment, with his album coming out in just a few days on the 29th, plus a whole lot more from his label and friends. Press play on the Soundcloud link below to hear a continuous mix of his new record while you read on and learn about his musical upbringing and what the future holds for Brodin's work.
For me it was all about synth music in the early Eighties. Bands like Yello, Depeche Mode and Kraftwerk were my gods.
Hey Martin, how’s it going?
Busy busy, but all good. Loads of things to handle in the few days left before the release of my album.
You must be getting anxious! Can you tell us a little bit about the 11 tracks you composed specifically for a full length? I heard that you didn’t want to create a concept album, but you still wanted to maintain a steady vibe and make all the pieces flow. Explain the overall goal of the album as a whole and the process that went into putting it all together.
Somehow I wanted the music to fit together as an album, rather than collecting 11 tracks that didn’t really fit together. I’ve listened to many “dance albums” over the years and loads of times I got the feeling that it’s track based and didn’t have the feeling as an artist album. Now it’s time for me to be judged so I better not say too much. Anxious, yeah, that’s my middle name these days, trust me.
I wanted to create an album that people can listen to over and over again. Not just trying to create one to be consumed for a couple of months. My biggest wish would be for people to still play it after 5-10-20 years. On the album you’ll find vocal tracks mixed with sole instrumentals. Various tempos and vibes, mostly modern nu-disco, some balearic grooves and also a few deep house tracks included.
I’d say you’ve achieved something that a lot of producers strive to do in their career, which is develop your own signature sound. Your music has a lot of 80's disco elements as well as some more contemporary deep sounds. Did you ever find it to be challenging when trying to figure out your true style, or was it an easy thing to invent?
Thanks a lot for that statement. It means a lot to hear this. Developing your true sound? I think it’s a combination of circumstances, timing and where you are as a person at that moment. Being in the music industry for a long time will also be a factor that leads you to the path of your sound. When I started out as a producer back in 2005 it was all about deep and tech house. That was the music I was really into those days, so it felt as a very natural choice. Stumbling into disco music as a producer five years later was a matter of mere chance and an instant feeling that this is what I should do now. To keep a long story short, I stumbled over some old and rare disco records in my collection one day that I haven’t played for many years. I put them on one by one and simply fell in love AGAIN, with the music I’ve been hunting down and collecting for many years, but for some reason been hidden for years. Said and done, a few months later MB Disco was born.
What kind of records did you grow up listening to and what sort of things were you into playing when you first began DJing? You were more on the deep house side of things in the beginning, right?
As most kids, you listen to your parents records to start with. In my case it was a mix of Abba, Elvis Presley and some cheesy disco compilations including “great” music with Boney M, Baccara and Bee Gees. What’s the story with so many artist names starting with a B? You start wondering, right? When you get older you get influences from many angles and you develop your own taste and interest in music. For me it was all about synth music in the early Eighties. Bands like Yello, Depeche Mode and Kraftwerk were my gods. And from that moment on, my passion for music never left. I could easily say that loads of music back then, is probably still with me somehow. As a DJ, I used to be a real deep house geek. I worshiped people like Glenn Underground, Ron Trent, Larry Heard and Moodymann. Bought loads of stuff from labels such as Guidance, Prescription and KDJ. So yes, you’re right, I was very much into the deep house side of things.
Being open to loads of various styles of music, you’ll surely get influenced as a producer and will create something out of that.
How would you explain the current scene in Sweden for the music you like? Are you pretty satisfied with the music world over there, or are you trying to bring something new to the people in your area? For someone like me who has never been there, how would you describe the musical interests?
In general I’m pleased with the club scene in my area. Over the last 10-15 years there’ve been many promoters and club owners who have done a great job bringing great artists and DJs here. The disco scene is not so big at the moment, it never really was. There are a few ones still pushing it, but it’s not big at all. At the moment I’m not so much involved in arranging nights. I simply don’t have the time for it anymore. It’s more or less a full time job if you wanna do it right. If you decide to come to Malmoe, where I’m based, I’m sure you’ll have a good time both club- and social wise.
One thing that everyone who runs a record label today has to consider is the fast growth of music in this digital age. Disco in 2 years won’t sound exactly like it does today. How do you see yourself staying relevant without following trends? Is the disco fan-base different than other forms of dance music?
I have my tentacles out there trying to see what happens in the disco scene. However, I’m not paying so much attention to the trends in general. I’ll stick to my game plan. Only release music that I like! I think the progress will happen automatically without trying to create “the new thing.” Being open to loads of various styles of music, you’ll surely get influenced as a producer and will create something out of that. And I also believe the disco fan base is not so much into the trends anyway. After all, disco music is in the past and many fans rather look back, than into the future.
The label feedback from iconic producers such as Chicken Lips and Ray Mang was basically instant, did that hit you by surprise? Were you reaching out to many people at the time, and were you doing everything yourself?
I’m always surprised when people like my music or the music my labels put out. But I had a good feeling when I started MB Disco that it was something special. And three years later it’s been proven the world needed another disco label. I did reach out to people I admired and I honestly believe it was a case of mutual respect. Good things happens for a reason I think. Yes, I did it all by myself. I’m a hard working man and music is my passion and life. So it’s not that difficult in the end.
Looking toward the future, what is in the works for MB Disco? What are some of the label plans for 2013, and where do you ideally see the label in years to come? Do you plan to keep pressing releases to vinyl?
Hopefully the label will survive and keep on releasing good music. The network is growing everyday and my aim is to be one of the most respected in the scene in the years to come.
We have loads of releases to come in 2013, mostly singles though. And yes, we try to make most of them on vinyl too. We can’t let it go away. Once a vinyl addict, always a vinyl addict.
What are some of the most important things you learned while running your previous label “Deeplay Music” in the early 2000s? Did that experience help prepare yourself for what you do now?
The most important thing I always tell younger people who wants to start a label or become a DJ or producer, keep it close to your heart. ONLY do things that mean something to you. Never ever try to do what is trendy. It will never work. And I’ve learned that people/fans will notice when you do it for the love of it. I think that’s also one the reasons for the instant success of MB Disco. Of course my experience in running labels over the years also helped. I won’t make all the same mistakes again. It’s the same for everyone, you have to try new things and take some risks, otherwise nothing will happen. You have to be very passionate about what you do and never give up your dreams. And last, nothing comes for free and never count on other people to do work for you. Do the hard work yourself.
You seem to be someone who is proud to embrace being open minded. Explain the importance to having a well-rounded music ear and why kids today should take the opportunity to listen to everything.
Yes, I’m very proud of it. Not saying though, that everyone should be more open minded to various kinds of genres. All I can say is, it will definitely broaden your horizon and you’ll be surprised how much great music that is out there. It’ll take loads of your time to find the great ones, but it will pay off in the end. Once again, it’s all about passion! I don’t know how much time I’ve spent in record stores, flea markets and record fairs. As a DJ, you can never listen to enough records. Dig deeper than just the top charts. There is so much great music that is unheard of.
What did you find so fascinating about the sounds of Kraftwerk, Yello, and Depeche Mode back in the day? How do artists like those influence what you do today, and why do you consider them special?
They were all pioneers in their own specific way. And looking back, you really see why. Their sound is impeccable and thinking of what they managed to produce with the equipment they had back in those days is just amazing. I still have my synth gene inside me, so I guess some of the productions I do is by default influenced by them.
What were some staple disco tracks that blew you away when you were younger? Do you remember any specific moments when you first started DJing where a song made you feel particularly inspired?
I can make a long list of disco classics that I totally loved, and still do. A few ones that blew me away back in the days were, First Choice - "Dr. Love," Rufus & Chaka Khan - "Any Love," and Diana Ross - "I Feel Love." The latter was probably the one that inspired me the most in later years when I started out as a DJ.
Do you think that your new album is a reflection of all the music knowledge you’ve absorbed after many years of collecting and learning? What do you think the album says about yourself?
It surely does. I even included a Yello cover as homage to them. Hope people don’t think I ruined it too much now. The album tells you that I slowed down a lot; the fastest track is 122 bpm and the majority range between 112-116 bpm.
If you could create the perfect setting for someone to listen to the album for the first time, what would it be like? I imagine sitting by the beach while the sun sets…
Yeah, a sunset would work really nice. Or what about a nice beach party? I can see this in all kinds of sunny places. I hope it creates a nice feeling for the listeners.
Did you produce the album tracks over a long period of time? What parts of your musical background or influences are present in it?
The album took almost a year to put together. I think it’s sort of a long time.
Loads of influences of disco music from the late seventies and early eighties are in here, together with eighties pop music. And of course my weakness for synth music also played its part.
At the moment, are there any newer producers that you think deserve some more attention? Name a few that we should be listening to right now.
Two that come to my mind are Jarle Bråthen from Norway, and Pleasure Machines from Belgium. Both very talented! And I’ve had the pleasure to work with both of them on MB Disco.
Alright, and before we wrap this up, what else do you have coming up from either yourself or the label that we should be aware of?
It’s full focus right now with the album. I will also be on tour for a couple of months promoting the album. On the label side, we have a few nice things lined up. I just signed a track from a South African artist, which will be out with remixes from Prins Thomas and me. I’m also quite thrilled about the signing of two classics dated 1981 from Pluton & The Humanoids and Purple Flash. They will come to life again with new remixes. On top of this there will be remixes out on the excellent labels Eskimo and Nang.
Thanks Martin, hope to see you out here sometime soon!
My pleasure. Thanks for having me.